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Number of people in Ireland living with or surviving cancer continues to grow

After non melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancers in men are prostate cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer.

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THE NUMBER OF people living with – and surviving – cancer continues to grow, according to new figures from the National Cancer Registry. 

The NCRI has today published its annual report, which estimates that the numbers of invasive cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) have risen to about 24,753 diagnoses annually, or 36,907 cases including all invasive cancers.

According to the registry, just over 9,000 deaths from cancer occurred per year between 2015 and 2017. 

Irish men remain more likely to get cancer than women, and are also at a higher risk of dying from the disease, according to the NCRI. 

An estimated 13,152 males and 11,642 females are diagnosed with an invasive cancer each year. The age-adjusted risk of developing cancer was about 20% higher for men than women overall (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers), and also higher for most cancer types.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate and female breast cancer were the most commonly diagnosed invasive cancers overall, and each comprised almost one-third of all invasive cancers in men and women respectively during the period 2018-2020.

Bowel cancer, lung cancer, melanoma of skin and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) were the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most common cancers in males.

Lung cancer, bowel cancer, melanoma of skin, and uterine cancer (corpus uteri) were the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most common cancers in females.

Rates of cancer incidence have generally stabilised or even declined in recent years, according to the report. However population growth and ageing is expected to result in a substantial increase in the number of cases over the coming decades, potentially doubling by 2045. 

Survival rates for Irish cancer patients continue to improve and these improvements are seen in most types of cancer. 

There were an estimated 190,000 people living after a diagnosis of invasive cancer other than non-melanoma skin cancer at the end of 2018. This figure is equivalent to 3.9% of the Irish population, and is likely to reach 200,000 by the end of 2020. 

“On the whole, the implications of the above trends are largely positive, in terms of an individual’s risk of developing or dying from cancer, although the population-level burden of cancer is strongly influenced by population changes,” Director of the National Cancer Registry Professor Kerri Clough-Gorr said.

“As the cancer projections report published by NCRI last year highlighted, there is uncertainty as to the magnitude of further increases in the annual number of cases diagnosed.”

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The NCRI said although survival improvements are largely attributable to improvements in treatment over time, increases in early detection of some cancers, particularly through screening, have also contributed to improved outcomes.

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